Creating space to think

Speech bubles with a face embedded in each one

Last year I attended three-days of training on the Thinking Environment led by Meg Peppin. Since then I have participated in Thinking Partnerships in which two people spend time thinking and listening. They typically last up to an hour.

The ten components of a thinking environment show there is much to be gained from being in this environment.

Here I’d like to reflect on two elements that I have found very useful so far. They are attention and appreciation.


Listening is a core component of thinking partnerships. The listener enables the thinker to think freely and without interruption. This is really useful for me as it enables me to step away from the busyness of work and life and to properly consider whatever it is I want to think about. Unlike many coaching interventions that provide solutions, the onus is on me and my thinking to develop answers and ideas. The listener can offer information where relevant and also help challenge assumptions that might limit our ability to think clearly but mostly it is about listening and paying attention.

I spent 10 minutes thinking with my daughter (who is 10) and afterwards she commented on how she felt she had been listed to i.e. without interruption for 10 minutes.

Whatever our age, we tend to be bombarded with information and people telling us what to do, or people cutting short what we have to say (for a variety of reasons). Having the time and the environment to think uninterrupted, and a partner who gives provides attention to help generate more thinking, is very powerful


Another key component of the thinking environment is appreciation – the genuine acknowledgement of a person’s qualities. Since I have started using the thinking environment I have become more appreciative of the qualities of others. I find the appreciation I receive very constructive and useful. It also makes me feel good and, very importantly, it teaches me to receive appreciation, something I was always a bit awkward about.

How often do people – inside and outside of work – appreciate you for your qualities? Probably not enough. But it can have a hugely positive impact on people.